1. Eric_Malteca
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    Eric_Malteca New Member

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    Simple Question: Complex Answer

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Eric_Malteca, May 28, 2011.

    How do you know if you are good?

    Not from a technical standpoint, but that you have the ability to provide entertainment to more than just your mother and homely girlfriend.

    :confused:
     
  2. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    The answer is quite simple, you show your work to beta reviewers who have to fear in telling you the truth and these people say they enjoyed the novel and they want more.
     
  3. Chachi Bobinks
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    Chachi Bobinks Senior Member

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    First of all... I should not have taken a drink of my coffee before reading this.

    Secondly... you let other people read it and see what they have to say!

    Family members (homely or not) tend to tell us what we want to hear. Unless they are mean (like mine), they are going to build you up rather you deserve it or not. So you share it with other writers and see what we have to say!
     
  4. Earlychop
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    Earlychop Member

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    Being GOOD, is a lie!!.

    Stephanie Meyer, is average. She tells wanted stories though. = awesome.

    Stephen King. Some of his books have been described by people (Who don't earn as much as he as poor.) Yet he is successful.

    There is a minimum level of literary skill. However, I believe that to be lower than that required to tell a good story.

    Do you have a story that is just ****ing super awesome?

    Emotion, Strength of feeling. Can you write to the soul.

    The soul has many entrances.

    Write until you know its good enough. Not until its good enough for others, but good enough for you.
     
  5. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    When someone in your intended audience enjoys reading your story.
     
  6. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    When you feel the story is good yourself and others finally agree (not always, that's why you have to keep writing in order to get someone to agree with what they like about it).
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends how you define 'good', doesn't it? S. Meyer is 'good'. She's a bestseller and has brought pleasure to thousands. Shakespeare is 'good', as he's stood the test of time so brilliantly. Anita Brookner is 'good' because her writing is pretty flawless technically. If someone reads your stuff and says, "Hey, I enjoyed that!", you're 'good', too.
     
  8. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    "Good"... Hmm... When a stranger will give you money to read what you have written, you are readable. When many strangers across the country pay you for your words, you're not bad. When millions of strangers across the globe help you pay your bills, you're doing something right. When people not yet born have heard of you and your works, you are good.

    Okay, that's a humble approach, but the point is "good" is only as good as you make it. If your publisher likes your story and you get published, I suppose then you can call yourself "good". Just always think you're awesome and eventually you will be. Beliefs inform actions as Sam Harris once said.
     
  9. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    When people are willing to pay for it.

    Others will disagree but money is where the mouth is (or something like that...). I've done freelance graphic design for a number of years and people are willing to pay me a decent fee for my work, return for more work and refer me to others.

    I look at my design work and am never satisfied. I don't know that I am objective but I must be 'good enough' because I get to make some cash once in a while.

    How does this apply to writing? Maybe a little harder but instead of spending my days staring at my bellybutton wondering if I was good enough, Ii started to look at my work as compared to those whose writing I felt was not all that good and writing that I felt was spectacular (I did/do this with design too)

    My aim is to be as good as those who are greater than myself (and whose aim isn't)? The comparison to those whose writing I found subpar is not out of some 'feel good' deal but to understand what it is that I recognized as 'bad'.

    Understanding the pitfalls that make bad writing is as much a part of being good as is practicing the craft.

    Did my 'voice' in the writing sound like it was written by high school sophomore wannabe (apologies to sophomores particularly if you are really good...) or does it have the tone of a writer in command of the craft?

    You should hope that you never feel that you are as good as you can be but that by way of comparison, you know that your writing has elements of a professional and not just someone who rests on the 10th grade teachers feedback that your two-pager was 'really good'...

    Any of that make sense?

    Edit: I coulda kept that short by saying; don't write in a vacuum but understand that you are part of a genre and know what constitutes great and poor of that genre.
     
  10. Skeletina
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    Skeletina New Member

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    Homely girlfriend?! :eek:

    I think the answer to this question varies from person to person. I feel I've done "good" when I finally feel pleased with something and others agree with me. While the approval of the intended audience is generally the key to success, I would not feel "good" if many enjoyed it but I felt I could have done better. My sense of personal satisfaction is almost if not just as important to me as my reader's satisfaction, which may make me different from some writers.

    On another note, you can be a good writer and come out with something not-so-good.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's it, in a nutshell!
     
  12. HotfireLegend
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    HotfireLegend Member

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    I think, for me, being good would ve sometjing along the lines of selling at least 500 copies and for people to refer it to others. This would then cause a chain effect of more people buying the books. If it's good enough for word of mouth and for people to thus buy the book, then you're a good writer!
     
  13. dianableu
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    dianableu Member

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    Hmmm. I don't know if I would agree with people who say that when you sell you're good. I'm sure there are lots of good writers who are never published. At least that's what I've been told. I'm sure there are lots of good manuscripts lying at the bottom of a slush pile. J.K. Rowling had a difficult time getting published. Stephanie Myers is mediocre at best and she is published. It's kind of a crap shot sometimes I think.

    I'll bet that what you are probably really asking is, am I completely wasting my time by trying to write? Am I being grandiose for thinking that I might possibly be published. At least, that's what I wonder a lot of the time. It's the reason a lot of us won't call ourselves writers unless we're published, right?

    I say, that if you have a strong urge to write, that it probably means you have some sort of talent for it. I think people usually gravitate towards what they are naturally good at. I think the best way to look at it is that you can always improve yourself and always learn and that there is a good writer inside of you and that with lots of work you can let it out.

    Just have fun with it.....
     
  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There are a number of ways to tell, depending on what you write. I discovered I had at least some talent for writing when my writing advocacy - letters to editors, letters to politicians, etc - generated changes in official conduct and responses of outrage from some of the people I was attacking. In the early 90s, I wrote constantly in local newspapers - mostly letters to the editor - attacking groups that were trying to prevent group homes for people with developmental disabilities from opening in their neighborhoods. I got attacked by those groups, but won the issue. And parents of kids in the same programs as my daughter came up to me and thanked me.

    That's how I knew.

    Will that translate to success in selling a novel? I don't know that, yet. I know I can write. I don't know if I can sell some of it.
     
  15. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you can move people with words.
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good reply, that is what I'm wondering too from time to time. But yesterday I figured, who cares if Im good or not, I can still have a good time writing no mater what will happen to it after that, I can still try to learn as much as I can and improve my writing even though it will never be published. Im not in it to get famous, I write because I have this urge you're talking about and I have had that since I first learned how to write at school when I was a kid. If I like it and it feels meaningful to me what does it matters if the world will ever see it? Sure it would be fun and some sort of acknowledgment, but the writing in itself couldnt be more fun than it is already :)
     
  17. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    First, I think for the most part, I agree with your post even as much as that selling is not the only way to assess quality, That said...

    I would question the assessments of writers (J.K. Rowling/Stephanie Myers). Not that I agree or disagree. That's actually not the point. HorusEye made the clearest point; when you can move people with words.

    While you might find Stephanie Myer a mediocre writer, she can move people. The point of stating when 'you can sell it' is that is is not longer based on your subjective opinion of what constitute writing but, with selling it, you have been able to prove that you can communicate to the masses on some level.

    Whether millions of books or a thousand based on word of mouth, people who have no reason to like your writing other than it communicates to them have deemed it something that speaks to them.

    Writing is about communicating. If what you write is such that others are willing to obtain it (buy it) then wondering if you are good is all for naught. Those who want to enjoy it have told you.

    In music, you hear artists say 'I do it for myself'...Balony. If they did, they would try to mass market it. Same with writing, if you are not writing to communicate with others, then keep a journal. If the intent is to publish than the only measure of good (ie - the ability to communicate with others) is whether or not is can sell.

    I understand that this is not universally true and the best novel in the world sat at the bottom of a pile never to be published but that could also be a writer that gave up.

    Stephanie Myer's communicates with people. Is she up to some folks' literary standards? Probably not but she still speaks to people on some level. She has to be good at communicating in some level. Good for you? Perhaps not but that is your subjective assessment.

    I'm not trying to take you to task in as much as point out that our own personal belief in what is good should not solely be measured by what we deem as good but also by what the masses have found as worthy of investing time and money.
     
  18. dianableu
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    dianableu Member

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    Yes, I guess I shouldn't have brought up specific writers because some people may like them and I am insulting them by saying that I don't think they are good. Truthfully, the whole Twilight phenomena is beyond me. And I don't think I'm a snob.

    Also, if you are published then certainly that does prove that you have something to offer, so I guess that would be the ultimate way to be sure that you are a good writer.

    The reason I said what I said is that I just don't think no publication necessarily meas that you aren't good.

    As for me, I do write for an audience. But I also write out of a need to write. I'm fully aware that the only people who may ever read my writing are family and friends, but I still do it. Why? Because I love to write.

    I don't write only to communicate with people. I also write out of this need to make sense of things. A need to name things. Sometimes when I write, I feel like I am working on a crossword or a jigsaw puzzle, I am trying to solve something--find that perfect word, describe something as vividly as possible, it's like my mind won't let me rest until I do.

    I think some of us do write as a hobby because we enjoy it, the same way that some people paint as a hobby or garden or decorate.

    I often suspect that I'm not a good writer and that I could never be published. But if I thought that the only reason to write was solely to get published then I would have to give up doing something that I enjoy tremendously.
     
  19. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    If the person you write it for is entertained.
     
  20. dianableu
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    dianableu Member

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    Oh, and incidentally, I have often gotten intimidated by reading work by someone who is a master and thought to myself that I was being so pretentious for imagining that I could write and then I thought. Okay. What if I'm only mediocre. So what? It doesn't mean I have no business writing. So, I'm not saying that being mediocre is the worst sin you can commit. I'm not one of those people who looks down on everyone who is not literary. I like a good plot and sometimes literary novels are too short on plot and get really boring. Anyway, wow, if I keep going I'm going to hijack the thread but just wanted to say that my post probably sounded snooty and I'm not snotty so....:)
     
  21. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    You need a finished article to start with - be in novel or short story. Then you have to leave it for 3 months. At the end of the three months, if you still enjoy it and take pleasure from reading your own work then you've achieved something very difficult - self satisfaction. At least it is difficult from the stand-point of many obsessive creatives who are saturated in 'it's just not good enough' vibes. Then show it to a complete stranger, (preferable your target audience) and if they bother to read it, it's probably good.

    I mean when you're giving stuff away for free people aren't going to read the whole thing, unless it's interesting. When you've paid for it, sometimes you feel obliged to read the whole thing.
     

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